Sept. 26, 2009
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The University of Iowa volleyball team dropped a road contest 3-0 to the ninth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday night at the UM Sports Pavilion. Junior Katie Kennedy and Senior Megan Schipper led Iowa with seven kills apiece. Junior Mara Hilgenberg contributed with 26 assists and senior Christina Meister added 11 digs.
“This was a good measuring stick for us,” said Head Coach Sharon Dingman. “The next time we see Minnesota I’ll be excited to see how much we’ve improved. Other than a few moments I thought we played hard. We knew we had to take risks. That was part of the game plan. I was really pleased with how we competed. Minnesota is a good team and it gives us further understanding of how we need to improve to reach the level of play we’re looking for.”
Minnesota (10-3, 2-0) captured the first set, 25-14, behind a .349 attack percentage. Hilgenberg led Iowa with 10 assists and four digs while Schipper compiled four kills. Freshman Emma Krieger Kittle recorded the first solo block of her career in the contest.
Iowa (9-5, 1-1) jumped to an early 5-2 lead in the opening set behind two Schipper kills, a Krieger Kittle block and a Minnesota error. The Gophers battled back to pull within one, 7-6, before back-to-back kills from Kennedy and a kill from Schipper stretched the Hawkeye lead, 10-6. Junior Becky Walters later added a kill to give the Hawkeyes a 13-10 advantage, but Minnesota answered with a 6-0 run to take a 16-13 edge. Huffman recorded a kill to end the Gopher rally, but Minnesota ran off the final nine points to take a 1-0 match advantage.
Iowa dropped the second set, 25-14. Walters paced the Hawkeyes with three kills. Hilgenberg added six assists and Schipper contributed with six digs.
Iowa trailed early in the second set, 11-5, before Krieger Kittle picked up a kill, Minnesota committed an error and Kennedy and Schipper combined on a block to pull Iowa within three, 11-8. Walters later traded three kills with three Gopher points to make the score 17-12. Minnesota then used an 8-2 run to end the set and take a 2-0 match lead.
The Hawkeyes dropped the third and decisive set, 25-18. Krieger Kittle and Kennedy led Iowa with three kills each. Meister added six digs and Hilgenberg dished 10 assists.
Iowa trailed 10-4 in the third set before a Minnesota error and kills from Schipper and Kennedy pulled Iowa within four, 11-7. Minnesota then stretched its lead to 15-7 before Dingman called a timeout. Iowa responded from the timeout with three straight points to close with five, 15-10, before the Gophers used a 6-1 run to extend its lead, 21-11. On the strength of two blocks from junior Aimee Huffman, Iowa strung together four straight points to pull within six, 21-15. The teams then traded points to push the set to match point, 24-17. A Kennedy kill kept the set alive, but Minnesota attacked with a kill to give the Gophers a straight-set match victory, 3-0.
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, October 2 when they face defending Big Ten and NCAA Champion Penn State. The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions face off at University Park, PA at 7 p.m.